There are two common forms of Spousal Support in North Carolina:
- Post Separation Support
Either party to the marriage may apply for support depending on financial need. Post Separation Support, or what divorce lawyers may refer to as PSS, is temporary financial support pending divorce.
Alimony is spousal support normally paid upon the divorce of the parties, as may be appropriate. Alimony is not automatic in North Carolina and is subject to important timing requirements (statutes of limitations).
“PSS used to be called ‘Temporary Alimony.’ It tends to last for a limited period time. While they may be related in certain parts, PSS and Alimony are separate, distinct legal issues.”
– Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer
Post Separation Support normally continues until such time as the parties may execute (sign) an agreement for Alimony, if any, or until a Family Court Judge may formally rule on an award of Alimony.
Prior to an Alimony Award (after trial) there must first be a formal finding of dependency, supported by sufficient Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
Only then may the Judge rule one party to be a “dependent spouse” and the other the “supporting spouse.” It frankly can get a bit complicated.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Spousal support is separate and distinct from Child Support in NC.
Determining the amount and duration of alimony (and PSS) may be a hotly disputed issue in divorce court.
Prior to agreeing to any form of spousal support, including signing legal documents regarding PSS or Alimony, we recommend you obtain professional legal advice from an experienced Divorce Lawyer in Charlotte.
Failure to do so may result in unintended, long-term financial consequences.What Does Dependent Spouse Mean? Who is the Supporting Spouse?
Prior to the transfer of any money or assets as part of spousal support, there often is a key determination:
Who, if anyone, is the “dependent spouse?” Is that spouse truly dependent upon the other for financial support?
It’s possible neither spouse is dependent upon the other. They may be independently wealthy or have sufficient financial means to maintain their own support, and therefore do not need post separation support or alimony.
It's important to realize this: Alimony is not automatic, nor is it always appropriate. There are limits to Alimony in NC.
Our family court judges in Charlotte (and throughout North Carolina) consider a series of factors in determining alimony.
Those may be found in the NC Divorce Laws here.
Some of the important factors in considering Alimony in North Carolina include:
- Misconduct of either of the spouses. The Judge in family court may consider corroborating evidence from post separation conduct
- Earnings and earning capacity of either spouse on a relative basis
- Emotional health of either spouse, their ages, and their physical and mental status
- Sources of earned and unearned income, stock dividends, retirement accounts, social security, insurance, etc.
- Marriage duration; how long the parties were married.
- The increased earning power, training, or education through contributions by the other spouse
- The extent of power to earn income, financial obligations, or expenses that may be affected by serving as the legal custodian of a minor child
- Whether a custodial parent can work or needs to stay at home to care for the children
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The relative education, training, and experience of the spouses and their ability to find employment to such extent that it would support their financial needs
- Time needed for a dependent spouse to acquire sufficient education or job training to become self-supporting
- The relative debts and assets of the parties to the marriage
- The contributions a spouse made to the marriage as a homemaker
- The tax consequences of an alimony award
The standard of living established during the marriage, along with the financial needs, income, and earning abilities of the spouses, are some of the more important factors used by a Family Court Judge determining both post-separation support and alimony.
Alimony is support and maintenance ordered after the divorce to be paid by one ex-spouse to the other, either in a lump sum or in periodic payments for either a specified length of time or indefinitely.
Alimony will terminate (end) if the dependent spouse dies, remarries, or cohabitates with another. Alimony may be ordered by the court if the judge determines it would be equitable to do so.Effect of Adultery on Post-Separation Support and Alimony
In a hearing on post-separation support, the judge may consider marital misconduct of either the dependent spouse or the supporting spouse in deciding whether to make an award.
The North Carolina divorce laws say alimony shall not be awarded if the dependent spouse participated in an act of illicit sexual behavior. The Court often awards alimony if the supporting spouse engaged in illicit sexual behavior.
If both parties engaged in illicit sexual behavior, then the court has discretion whether to award or deny alimony.
Equitable distribution can impact an award for alimony. Marital estates with significant assets may obviate the need for PSS and/or Alimony in North Carolina.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Demands for both alimony and equitable distribution (ED) must be made before the entry of a judgment of Absolute Divorce in order to retain rights to litigate these issues in court.
Make sure you contact a family law attorney before filing for divorce to protect your rights to alimony or equitable distribution.Call Charlotte Alimony Attorney Bill Powers
Consult with a Charlotte alimony attorney at Powers Law Firm PA to determine whether spousal support may be a factor in your domestic matter.
Contact the Charlotte alimony attorneys at Powers Law Firm PA now at 704-342-4357
You may also email Bill Powers at Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com